In a widely anticipated attempt to blunt Facebook's growing popularity, Rupert Murdoch said outside software developers will be allowed to write programs for MySpace.com, the social networking site his News Corp. bought in 2005.
MySpace is still the Internet's leading social networking platform, with more than 105 million users in August, according to ComScore Inc. data. But Facebook, the social site started in a Harvard University dorm room in 2004, had 69 million users that month. More telling, another tracking firm, Hitwise, said that Facebook had 134 percent more users in September than the year before, while MySpace's usage had increased by 12 percent.
"Facebook is pretty cool," Murdoch said during a keynote address Wednesday evening to open the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. "It's very different from us."
MySpace wants to grab back some of the cachet that Facebook has stolen. In May Facebook added the ability for outside developers to add applications, often called widgets, to users' profile pages. It started with just a handful of such applications but, by early Thursday, Facebook passed the 6,000 mark. Applications are smaller programs, often used for entertainment purposes, that users add to their home page.
Allowing developers access to MySpace is the second move this month that Murdoch's firm introduced to emulate Facebook. MySpace added an option so users can change a profile's "skin" so a page can use the cluttered look long popular on the site or a cleaner style that clearly borrows from the look of a profile page on Facebook.
Key to the new "skin" feature is a box called "friend status" that alerts users to what their friends are up to at the moment. It is similar to but not as robust as Facebook's "News Feed," a display that alerts users to their friends' status and gives updates on what new applications someone may have downloaded.
Earlier Wednesday, Apple Inc. also said it will allow third-party software developers to create applications for its two new touch-screen devices, the iPhone and the iPod Touch.
*Coming Monday: More on Facebook's widgets and the competition with MySpace.
*Anytime: Keep up on tech news and views on the Tribune's tech blog, Eric 2.0, at chicagotribune.com/eric.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun